I feel like so many of you know the present me. If you experienced 20 year old Carissa or even 25 year old Carissa… I never did anything I really wanted to do.
I lived by a regimented lifestyle and busied myself in order to not have to sit with my sadness.
Turns out, this is not really the healthy thing to do. WHO KNEW? I didn’t… well… I did, but I could not admit it. Anyway, all this to say, my therapist nipped that in the bud… real quick. OF COURSE it was in her “therapist way.” She definitely made me think it was my idea. Like I had this brilliant revelation that maybe I should slow down a bit and not hurry through everything I do in order to merely survive, before getting to my next season of life.
WHAT A CONCEPT.
There was a very specific question she asked me though, that really stumped me and left me with nothing to say. Naturally, I HAD to figure out what to say. It left me with no choice other than to allow myself to “be.” To sit in my sadness and face the reality of how I felt. I mean… I guess I did have the option to ignore it, but then I would think of the money I was paying for therapy and I figured I should probably put forth the effort.
Ready for the question? It is SO SIMPLE that you will either feel like your mind is blown or wonder why the heck I paid so much for someone to ask me this…
“What are the things you have not done and are not doing because you do not have a husband?”
Back story – I thought that life started when you got married. Growing up in a conservative Christian environment, that is what you see. Not that I fully agree with it, but that is all I knew. It is all I had ever known.
I had felt like I was lacking. Like there was something wrong with me… because I was single! Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever feel like; “What in the world is wrong with me that I cannot get a boyfriend OR get one to stay by my side?”
The answer is that NOTHING is wrong with you.
I abhor those dating websites that tell you “how to land a man” and all that ish. Sorry, but if YOU showing up as YOURSELF is not allowing for a connection with someone – they are not your person. Plain and simple. You are worthy of everyone, but that does not mean every partnership is meant for you.
Those sites, tell us to act like someone else in order to “be” that person he wants. Here is the thing – if YOU are who he should partner with, he will love you for you. Trust me, you can only put on a façade for so long.
I put on a façade for years. At one point, I was discussing marriage with someone and shopping for engagement rings. I had my future figured out. I was a solid twenty years old and ready to settle down. I had started cooking often, grocery shopping once a week, keeping a great schedule and helping at Church. I spent every spare hour on Sundays with his family (which was such a gift) I mean – I was wife material… right?
I was finally able to start my life! I was going to be a wife. I had “finally” been chosen. It must have been all the great things I was doing and saying… right? (Sarcasm in its’ fullness right now).
Until that wasn’t my reality. I won’t go into the details, but it did not work out. I was devastated. I had given EVERYTHING to make this work and even the “worthy” version of me… wasn’t worthy at all.
Then I spiraled.
For years. Thinking I was so close to starting my life. SO I tried again and again to “be” that girl. Not the “THAT GIRL” I love. The one that is unapologetically herself. No, I was the girl that constantly conformed to whoever I was around. To please them. To find someone to start my life with.
The thing about this mentality, is that nobody could quite figure out what I wanted or what I was about – because I was so far from knowing it myself. I thought someone else coming along side me… practically dragging me behind them, down the aisle into my “purpose” would tell me… FINALLY… what I wanted and who I was.
OKAY, I could go on for days about how wrong this mentality is for both parties in that supposed situation. What I can say is that WHO I am, has always been there, I have just not been willing to admit who I was. I did not like that side of me. It is… dare I say it… IMPERFECT.
Shocker… I know.
So when she asked me that question… of what I had been waiting for – I could not answer.
I didn’t know.
I have always been a passionate person, but only about what everyone around me was passionate about.
Silence filled the room that day. She waited… patiently. Then I burst into tears (every therapists dream – truly) as I told her I had no idea. Then I continued to sit in the reality that I had always lived a life of longing and the sad part was, that I had never sat long enough to understand WHAT I wanted.
I sat there thinking, I could just say that my dream is; “To be married and to have kids.” I almost blurted it out, just to fill the silence, until I realized she was a trained professional and would see right through me.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the sanctity of marriage and I ADORE children. Does that mean I wanted that then or even tomorrow? NO. It is all I knew, though.
SO I explored. I asked a lot of questions that felt selfish because they were about myself – but I found that to be so necessary. You can read why it was here.
For now – I will say that I did come to some conclusions that weren’t marriage and children. I wanted to be a part of foster care, I wanted to write, I wanted to live alone and I wanted to do things for sheer enjoyment with other people.
So I found ways to do those things. I became a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster youth, wrote more on my previous blog, found a studio apartment I could “afford” (it is San Diego) and found other communities to be a part of.
Life changed rapidly after that.
I was no longer focused on finding a husband. On dragging someone into the reality of my shame and force them to drag me out of my state of constant longing.
A freedom happened… I realized I get to live NOW.
That scared me at first, I thought… if I don’t try… how will I ever find someone? Won’t it turn guys off if I love singleness? What if I realize I don’t ever want to be married?
But that is the thing – these were fears.
This was resisting the journey I was already on and looking down out of shame instead of up out of thankfulness.
These were producing lies in me and I was done living in that realm.
Then it hit me… I had never accepted AND enjoyed exactly where I was. I always looked ahead – longing for the next season of life. But then and there I was single, once again, wishing away a season that could otherwise be FREAKING AMAZING.
And it is!
There will be a season in life where I won’t be able to live by my own agenda, have time all to myself in the mornings and at night, have the option to cook a meal or do laundry without anyone depending on me to do so. And oy vey, there will be a time when I can’t just meet my friends out for a drink at the drop of a hat.
I was wishing away a time to really absorb my friendships, things I love to do, and most importantly, invest in others fully and without distraction.
So I dove in. I did the scariest thing and let people in. A funny thing happened, I started to like WHO I was, deep down. You can read about that process here.
I’m not gonna’ lie – there were some things I had to do and some habits I had to rid myself of, in order to get to a place of loving exactly where I was at AND to be thankful for singleness. But putting in the work to change my mindset and to fight those fears, brought out more freedom and love than I could have ever imagined possible.
And it took a community around me. To say “yes” with me and keep running the race with me, even when I was falling. They were key to this overcoming.
It is them, it is all of you, that have taught me I can be fully known AND fully loved.
In that place, I was free to roam in every feeling, to experience this season fully and with an abandon like never before.
So you might be wondering… “What on earth did she do?”
I will say, everyday is a new day, with a new revelation. Amidst all that, there are some key things I continually do, regardless of where I am at that I HIGHLY recommend in order to embrace exactly WHERE and WHO you are in this gorgeous world.
Take yourself on a date.
I have decided that even if I am not single one day, I will still do this. Sure – at times it will not be as frequent, but this has taught me more about myself than I ever could have imagined.
It truly is such a vulnerable thing to show up at a restaurant and say “table for one” or even to just go eat at the bar when you are all dressed up. I no joke, used to tell people I was from out of town because I would get so nervous. Now I just tell them, “I am on a date with myself.”
This is a GREAT way to meet other people, because they get so confused. I see it on their faces… “Is this girl for real?” But here is the thing… I AM and because of that, if they think it is strange, it has no hold on me.
When you are confident that the things you do are actually what you should and want to do, you don’t really care if anyone disagrees.
For those that don’t disagree, the questions flood in and I get to talk to a human I would not know otherwise. If I was there immersed in conversation with someone else, I would not have the chance to get to know these people, to sit with yet more and more fascinating human beings and have the honor of hearing their stories. It is life changing.
But like I said, it took time. At first I was so self conscious; “What are they thinking? Do they feel bad for me? Should I tell them I do have offers to hang out with people, but that dating myself is what I need? I should probably not mention that I scheduled this in my calendar and deliberately got ready for myself… and bought myself flowers today.” The list goes on. Then one day, I realized that FEAR was taking over again and robbing me of a beautiful moment. I was allowing insecurity to run this situation, instead of taking control.
So I decided to start telling people exactly what was happening, and why.
Beautiful conversations have happened in that space. It is like this season has given people permission to explore their own. The only reason I can say that, is because it is always other peoples’ comfortability with their lives that have challenged me to ask if I am truly comfortable with mine.
SO DO IT. Schedule that date. Go get a glass of wine and then walk around the Museum of Art. Go to that concert. Hey… go to a baseball game. The sky is the limit. Here is the thing, the only thing holding you back is yourself. I remember I used to fantasize going on certain dates or shy from things because I didn’t have a date. That was yet again, a circumstance controlling me and that just cannot be. So now I just go. I buy the ticket, and I do the damn thing (as Becca Kufrin would say). AND YOU CAN TO. Let me know how it goes. OH and be sure to tell yourself how good you look, because you do!
I started to say “thank you” to all past circumstances. EVERY DAY.
I wasn’t able to do this before. I hated my present, so why would I say thanks to the past that got me there? I was bitter and drowning in how salty I was over it. Everywhere I went was plagued with annoyance that I was once again somewhere I did not want to be. But everything changed when I started saying, “thank you.”
Is everything in my past worthy of gratitude? No! Some things have happened that only could derive from evil, but here is the thing; evil cannot also have control over how I react to those situations. I mean, it could – but then evil keeps winning. And I was DONE allowing evil to win.
So I said thanks that even though tragedies happened in my family, we had each other. I said thanks that I had the opportunity to learn from those situations and not live a lifestyle that leads to those same incidents. I found gratitude for my years of depression, that in experiencing such a low, I was able to see light even brighter coming out of it. And I said thank you to the men that hurt me (I was not all to blame). That I got to know them in a such a deep way. That is an honor, no matter how it ends.
When gratitude comes… every season becomes worth it. It becomes worth the effort that was put in and your current circumstances become something to be embraced. It first takes embracing the past that got you to the present. To saying “yes” to everything that brought you here and now… to live FULLY and UNASHAMEDLY.
I decided to allow for loneliness.
Strange, right? Like… doesn’t this contradict the above?
Here’s the thing… it doesn’t.
If there is anything I have come to realize – it is that loneliness is something all of us encounter, no matter our relationship status. We are humans that long to be known and loved. Nobody can make us realize this all the time, especially, if we do not know it ourselves.
This was the hardest to navigate, though. Even though I was in this great process of finally embracing my journey and living fully, exactly where I was at, exactly as I was… I found that I was crying myself to sleep. A lot.
Now, I should confess that I am a crier. I feel all the feels and pretty much all the feels lead me to crying. However, not much leads me to cry myself to sleep. Loneliness does.
I remember waking up one morning with a determination. Obviously, this was an emotion that would come and go my whole life – so there must be something good in it, right?
It took a while, because I did not want to accept it, but I finally realized that there IS beauty in loneliness. It is there that I tap into a source I wouldn’t otherwise. For me, that is God. Whatever your language for that is, loneliness will take you to that source. To be content sitting still and alone and to yet again find thankfulness in a place society deems as pitiful and low.
I never feel higher than when I sit still, alone and feeling the pangs of loneliness, to then experience divine strength that was there all along. There is a permission slip I sign in that moment, every time, that states I am allowed to feel lonely AND find beauty in it. An agreement comes along that says “yes” to declaring that a glorious interaction happens in that place that would not happen otherwise and that I am going to embrace it for all it is. Every time this happens, I come out alive and I come out a changed person. Finding beauty in a place nobody has ever deemed beautiful, is a FREAKING victory. I mean… I LOVE a soul felt victory, don’t you?
Does this seem like a lot? I promise it won’t if you go for it. Be sure to ask yourself if this is what YOU want before you do it. I would give you other peoples’ testimonials… but I really hope you get to a point of living in the NOW with confidence that the NOW you live in, is actually what you desire.
Is there something you do to embrace your current season? If you are single… what do you do to love singleness? I would LOVE to know.
There is more to say… but that is all for now. Talk to you soon, babes.
XXXXXX – C